{ICYMI} Free Retelling! "The Story of Grandmother," an older version of Little Red as retold by author Hannah Kollef and a Review of PATH OF NEEDLES by Hannah Kollef

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This post was first featured on A Backwards Story on Feb 5, 2013 [retelling] during A Week of Little Red and on Oct. 11, 2012 [review] during the book's blog tour.

This year for the event's 5th Anniversary, older posts will be pulled out from the archives and given a brand-new coat of paint as "In Case You Missed It" features!

I guess neither of these posts are technically FTF. Sorry about that! BUT one is for A Week of Little Red, which is a fairy tale event, so it counts, right? ^.~ I really wanted to feature this ICYMI as a companion to today's review of CRIMSON BOUND by Rosamund Hodge where I discuss the path of pins and the path of needles, and this post with Hannah will give you some necessary context if you're unfamiliar with this rarer version of Little Red's tale!

Much of Hannah Kollef's debut novel PATH OF NEEDLES is based on The Story of Grandmother, an older, less well-known version of Little Red Riding Hood.  Hannah posted a retelling of the tale in her own words on her website, and shares it here today for A Week of Little Red!

Hannah Kollef is the author of the PATH OF NEEDLES, the first book in a fairy tale-based trilogy.  ​In addition to her novels, Hannah has been published in various magazines including In General magazine and Hometown Quarterly. She also works as a freelance copywriter, editor, and social media consultant for several small businesses. She lives close to New York City.
She can be found on her website and blog!  

"The Story of Grandmother”
retold by Hannah Kollef

There was a woman who had made some bread. She said to her daughter: 
 “Go carry this hot loaf and bottle of milk to your granny.” 
 So the little girl departed. At the crossroads she met bzou, the werewolf, who said to her:
 “Where are you going?” 
 “I’m taking this hot loaf and a bottle of milk to my granny.” 
 “What path are you taking,” said the werewolf, “the path of needles or the path of pins?” 
 “The path of needles,” the little girl said. 
 “All right, then I’ll take the path of pins.” 
 The girl set off, the bzou set off, and the bzou reached Grandmother's cottage first. He quickly killed the old woman and gobbled her up, flesh, blood, and bone - except for a bit of flesh that he put in a little dish on the pantry shelf, and except for a bit of blood that he drained into a little bottle. Then the bzou dressed in Grandmother's cap and shawl and climbed into bed. 
 When the girl arrived, the bzou called out, "Pull the peg and come in, my child."
 "Grandmother," said the girl, "Mother sent me here with bread and milk." 
 "Put them in the pantry, child. Are you hungry? 
 "Yes, I am, Grandmother." 
 "Then cook the meat that you'll find on the shelf. Are you thirsty?" 
 "Yes, I am, Grandmother." 
 "Then drink the bottle of wine you'll find on the shelf beside it, child." 
 As the young girl cooked and ate the meat, a little cat piped up and cried, "You are eating the flesh are your grandmother!" 
 "Throw your shoe at that noisy cat," said the bzou, and so she did. 
 As she drank the wine, a small bird cried, "You are drinking the blood of your grandmother!" 
"Throw your other shoe at that noisy bird," said the bzou, and so she did. 
 When she finished her meal, the bzou said, "Are you tired from your journey, child? Then take off your clothes, come to bed, and I shall warm you up." 
 "Where shall I put my apron, Grandmother?" 
 "Throw it on the fire, child, for you won't need it anymore." 
 "Where shall I put my bodice, Grandmother?" 
 "Throw it on the fire, for you won't need it anymore." 
 The girl repeats this question for her skirt, her petticoat, and her stockings. The bzou gives the same answer, and she throws each item on the fire. As she comes to bed, she says to him, "Grandmother, how hairy you are!" 
 "The better to keep you warm, my child." 
 "Grandmother, what big arms you have!" 
 "The better to hold you close, my child." 
 "Grandmother, what big ears you have!" 
 "The better to hear you with, my child." 
 "Grandmother, what sharp teeth you have!" 
 "The better to eat you with, my child. Now come and lie beside me." 
 "But first I must go and relieve myself." 
 "Do it in the bed, my child." 
 "I cannot. I must go outside," the girl says cleverly, for now she knows that it's the bzou who is lying in Grandmother's bed. 
 "Then go outside," the bzou agrees, "but mind that you come back again quick. I'll tie your ankle with a woolen thread so I'll know just where you are." He ties her ankle with a sturdy thread, but as soon as the girl has gone outside she cuts the thread with her sewing scissors and ties it to a plum tree. 
The bzou, growing impatient, calls out, "What, have you finished yet, my child?" When no one answers, he calls again. "Are you watering the grass or feeding the trees?" No answer. He leaps from bed, follows the thread, and finds her gone. 
 The bzou gives chase, and soon the girl can hear him on the path just behind her. She runs and runs until she reaches a river that's swift and deep. Some laundresses work on the river bank. 
"Please help me cross," she says to them. They spread a sheet over the water, holding tightly to its ends. She crosses the bridge of cloth and soon she's safe on the other side. 
 Now the bzou reaches the river, and he bids the women help him cross. They spread a sheet over the water — but as soon as he is halfway across, the laundresses let go. The bzou falls into the water and drowns.

O P E N I N G   H O O K:

THE CLOCK WAS ABOUT TO STRIKE MIDNIGHT as I stood beside a potted bamboo plant, nursing a stolen glass of wine and praying no one would see me. My red dress chafed. My high-heels were killing me. The noise level in the gallery was almost deafening. And if I had to listen to one more person talk about the weather, I was going to scream.
(Page 5, US e-ARC edition)
Check back on the 22nd for a special guest post with author Hannah Kollef on the way fairy tales influenced PATH OF NEEDLES! 

By now, you know that fairy tales are my weakness.  When I was contacted about reviewing the first book in a new series entitled PATH OF NEEDLES and heard about the fairy tale connection, I was intrigued.  Reading the book, I found myself surprised by the way author Hannah Kollef included fairy tales in her novel.  She knows more about fairy tales than I do (and I know a lot, so that's saying something!), harking back on versions older than what both Charles Perrault and the Brothers Grimm made widely available.  So many versions of the tales we know and love today are sanitized.  I always knew that (especially since some people only know the Disney versions of the tales and don't realize others exist), but I didn't realize until recently that even the classic storytellers who gave us these tales kept them clean.  I knew some of the tales, such as Sleeping Beauty and Rapunzel, were much darker, but never thought overly much about it.  When reading PATH OF NEEDLES, I was introduced to a new version of Little Red Riding Hood, one that is, in reality, entitled The Story of Grandmother.  The girl (whose famous red hood was invented later by Perrault!) encounters the wolf on the road and is asked if she plans to take "the path of needles or the path of pins."  At first, I wasn't sure if Kollef had made this up for her story, but futher research online shows that this is, in fact, an older, more violent and sexual, version of the original tale.  The paths the girl takes also play important roles in PATH OF NEEDLES and 2013's sequel, PATH OF PINS.  On Kollef's new website, which launches tomorrow, readers will be treated to the original tales Kollef uses in her novel.  Check out these obscure tales now! 

While it takes a while for the heart of the story to open up and get under way, once the characters discover that they don't live in an ordinary world, but one of fae and magic, the tale really takes off.  After their father is kidnapped, Kat and her twin brother Roger discover that the fairy tales they grew up with were based on reality, that an alternate world existed before the Rose Queen became corrupt and turned truth into legend.  There's a prophecy about the Truth and the Lie, and it is widely believed that Kat is the Truth and Roger is the Lie.  It is their destiny to right the wrongs that occured almost a thousand years ago.  Together with their friend Jim and a host of fae now living in our world, they have the power to save--or destroy--the future.

PATH OF NEEDLES has a slow start, but picks up speed once the story gets going.  Kollef entwines folklore with her own original ideas seamlessly, making it hard to tell when one ends and the other begins.  There's a lot of fast-moving action and not everything is explained, but the book is the first in a trilogy and this is to be expected.  Kat learns so much about herself, and yet knows so little by the book's end, and Roger knows even less.  I'm excited to see more of his side to the story in future books.  The book is a pure fantasy adventure with little romance, at least in the first book, though there are hints of possiblities in future titles. 

It will be interesting to see where Kollef is going and how she'll bring more obscure fairy tales into the public eye as she continues writing.  The ebook, which launches tomorrow, will retail for $2.99, a pricepoint that is easy to stomach.  A print book is being proofed now and will be released soon.  For more information on Kollef and her series, check out her brand-new web site, which features information on the series as well as bonus features such as music, fairy tale retellings, deleted scenes, and more.
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

I like the way the cover is both fantasy and modern-day at the time.  The thorny design reminds me of various SLEEPING BEAUTY covers I've seen, and also brings memories of Alex Flinn's original fairy tale covers to mind (BEASTLY, etc.). 

The fun thing about the thorns is that the story isn't named after one of the fairy tales you'd expect when seeing thorns, but an older version of Little Red Riding Hood that most people don't know exists!  I really like the way this is reflected in the cover.  The design fits in with the fairy tale covers of its genres, while still remaining unexpected.

I really enjoy seeing the city in silhouette, too, which is a more common pattern in YA now, but only with dystopians.  This series isn't dystopian, but the silhouettes bring a modern edge to this fairy tale-themed story.

Overall, very interesting design!
O F F I C I A L   I N F O:

Author: Hannah Kollef
Release Date: Out Oct. 12, 2012
Publisher: Hannah Kollef
Received: For Review

When 17-year-old Kat Finnegan is warned in a Brooklyn alleyway that her father is going to disappear, she shrugs and walks away. The next morning her father is gone--leaving behind a booby-trapped apartment and a mystery that has slept for a thousand years.

To get him back, Kat and her twin brother Roger will have to unravel the secrets behind the Rose Queen--the fairy queen who ripped apart reality and stitched it back together, transforming the Fey into the memories known as fairy tales. They will also have to come to grips with their emerging powers and discover why they are known to the magical world as "The Truth" and "The Lie."

Hunted by demons and treacherous Fey, Kat and Roger follow the Queen's trail from Manhattan to Newark. But neither the Queen nor her curse is what they expected, and more is at stake than their father's life--and theirs.

PATH OF NEEDLES is the explosive first book in the Paths series: urban fantasies littered with deadly fairy tales, tangled romance, and heartbreaking betrayals.